October 22, 2020 inMedia planning

How COVID is changing media planning

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COVID-19 has changed the world, likely forever. From initial panic to digital pivots, media planning has been somewhat lost in the woods since early 2020. And we still have a way to go to see the sun again – but we’ll get there.

Here we look at how the pandemic has changed, and continues to change, marketing and media planning. To avoid speculation, we will leave health, mental health and economic investigations to experts in those industries.

How the media planning industry reacted

Coronavirus caused a justifiable panic when it first appeared as a pandemic in early 2020. Many organisations went into crisis mode almost immediately. Marketing budgets were slashed across the world, a lot of the time to zero.

Soon after, when it became clear the world would face an ongoing up-and-down battle with the virus, early adopters reversed the decision and pivoted to a new paradigm of media planning.

MarTech investment rose. Brands built a following. Online engagement became the focus. And in the competitive media landscape, brands and agencies who experimented early are leading the charge towards a predicted advertising resurgence.

What it looks like now

When we published our 2020 marketing industry outlook in February (right before COVID emerged as a global issue), we foresaw four significant trends shaping the media planning landscape:

  1. Machine learning (AI, marketing automation and chatbots)
  2. Multi-channel digital campaigns would become commonplace
  3. Authenticity, purpose and personalisation predicating brand success
  4. Consumers choosing experiences over things

Fast forward a few months and trends are starting to emerge in media planning that shows our crystal ball was at least three-quarters accurate – possibly even faster than we expected.

  • 56% of businesses surveyed by Marketing Charts say chatbot investment increased
  • 45% are consciously more consumer-centric in their marketing
  • 39% added a new marketing channel

And the marketing industry seems to be looking inward, rather than chasing new business:

  • 32.6% of CMOs surveyed by Marketing Charts said retention was a priority (14% said acquisition)
  • 84.2% of marketers said social media is being used for brand building and awareness

Global ad spend is recovering after a swift and severe decline. According to the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), positivity among advertisers is spreading and the majority (54%) are no longer putting off launching campaigns. Actual ad spend across the marketing industry is still down year-on-year, but investment is up for online channels and video especially.

What does this mean for marketers? We are not out of the woods yet, but innovation and strategic investment are helping media planners find the path.

3 ways COVID is still changing the media planning landscape

1. Fewer traditional channels

Marketers are abandoning traditional campaign rulebooks, replacing them with an inventive digital-first strategy that preferences audience loyalty and online engagement over eyes on a page.

This is partly due to a decline in traditional media consumption. But for the most part, media planners are following consumers as they spend more time and money online.

2. Campaign planning is getting smarter

50% of businesses surveyed by Marketing Charts reported trying new marketing technology or features to facilitate the rapid shift to online advertising. Disruption, rather than necessity, is proving to be the parent of innovation.

Here at Mediatool, we have seen a 10.35% increase in web traffic between February and September (compared to the previous 8 months), and 19.8% more requests for demos of our comprehensive media planning tool.

3. Data is a force for change

We are in the middle of a data revolution. Media planners are harnessing the power of proven data to make faster, more insightful decisions. Google’s marketing department noted the irony in this back-to-basics approach: marketers have always had the data available, but it took a pandemic to realise the potential of real-time information access.

Businesses need a confidence boost. That means knowing when media planning is working and using data to alter ad investment for mid-campaign experiments.

Getting ahead of the change to come

Global media markets are showing signs of recovery. We are not there yet, but hope is glimmering on the horizon for marketers and agencies alike.

Now is the time to make a bold (but well-researched) decision and invest in the technology that will enable better decision-making and more thoughtful media investment. Nobody knows for sure what the world will look like next week, next month, or next year.

But with Mediatool, marketers can plan marketing campaigns faster, track real-time results, and optimise investment based on accumulated data. And it’s this potential that is powering confident media planning for global brands and agencies in an uncertain world.

Find out how Mediatool will change the way you plan, deliver and optimise marketing campaigns. Book a free demo or explore some of the powerful features.


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